The Blue Jays earned back-to-back field hockey victories last weekend, marking their second straight season opening with two consecutive wins.
“We had a fantastic weekend, gritting out a tough win in 1v1s versus a very strong Washington & Lee team and then coming back for a decisive win at Goucher on Sunday,” Head Coach Jane Wells said.
On Friday night, the Blue Jays opened their season against the Washington & Lee Generals. The Generals won the initial battle, being the first to get onto the scoreboard as forward Lauren Paolano took a pass on the near side and quickly found the back of the net to put the Generals up 1-0.
The Jays quickly bounced back. Freshman midfielder Seema Sajjan sent a long ball to senior forward Morgan Pothast, who converted the opportunity to a goal for the Blue Jays. The score was tied at one.
The second half of the game was scoreless, as both teams demonstrated defensive resilience and remained tied at one a piece. The Blue Jays then fought through two 15-minute overtimes, again with no score. The game then came down to a sudden-death shootout.
“Our defensive line of Amy Hallowell, Francesca Cali and Sophie Kim performed really well throughout both games as well, handling a lot of pressure from W&L in the second half and a tough and aggressive Goucher attack,” Wells said.
After six rounds of penalty strokes, the Generals’ junior forward Haley Tucker missed her attempt, opening the opportunity for Hopkins to close out the game. Treading through the lingering rain, senior forward and midfielder Clare Kavanagh blew a shot past Washington & Lee’s goalkeeper Ariyel Yavalar to secure the victory 2-1.
The Jays’ sophomore goalkeeper Jodie Baris earned a career-high 15 saves, eight of which were in the second half and five of which were in overtime. Pothast scored her 21st career goal, moving her up to the 15th most career goals in program history.
Friday night marked the Blue Jays’ first shootout win since the team’s 2-1 win against the Gettysburg Bullets in 2009 and the first win for new head coach Jane Wells. Wells, who was the head coach at Rhodes College for 12 years, is now the program’s fifth head coach. She led her team at Rhodes to 10 Conference regular season titles, eight conference tournament championships and four NCAA Tournament appearances.
“It is so exciting to start my first season at Hopkins 2-0,” Wells said.
On Sunday afternoon, Hopkins refocused after their exciting season opener to face the Goucher Gophers. The Blue Jays came out strong as sophomore midfielder Katie McErlean scored a pair of goals within the first 30 minutes of the game.
McErlean’s first goal was off a deflection from senior defender Francesca Cali. McErlean scored her second after receiving a pass from Kavanagh and lobbing the ball over the Gophers’ defense and goalkeeper Megan Wells.
“On Sunday at Goucher, sophomore Katie McErlean made some fantastic adjustments from Friday’s game and paced our attack. She scored two goals early and kept up the pressure and pace for the entirety of the game,” Wells said.
The Jays kept the pressure on the Gophers throughout the second half, not allowing a single Gopher goal past Baris. Along with the defensive pressure, the Blue Jays continued to bring their offensive heat. Pothast and Kavanagh both scored to close the shutout victory, winning 4-0.
Coach Wells credited the success to the team’s commitment and intensive training during preseason.
“We worked really hard, pushing through two-a-day [practices] up through the start of classes. We also kept ourselves busy with some other activities off the field, including some volunteering, paddle boarding and an O’s game,” Wells said.“We really focused on establishing a high and consistent work rate during practices and continuing to move the team culture in the right direction.”
Wells is determined to push the program towards being a competitive threat on the national level. She thanks her players, other Hopkins coaches, administrators and her assistant coach, Britt Walker, for the support they have given to building the program.
“Assistant Coach Britt Walker has been such a huge asset. She has taken two strong goalkeepers and developed them into phenomenal performers,” Wells said. “Her Division I playing experience has been integral to our team’s development all over the field as well. It is so special to have an assistant who is a goalkeeping specialist but is also able to contribute in a big way to our field players’ growth.”
With a new coaching staff and a new mindset, the Blue Jays continue to diligently prepare for their upcoming games.
Hopkins hosts their first home game of the season on Saturday, Sept. 9 at 5 p.m. The Jays will face off against the 14th ranked University of Rochester Yellowjackets.